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Oh y'all are just going to love this
« on: Dec 12, 2003, 11:13:46 PM »

Courts are not failing fathers, says judge

Feuds over divorce are alienating children, not 'pro-mother' courts

Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
Saturday December 13, 2003
The Guardian

A high court family judge took the rare step of warning parents separated from their child or children by divorce that they risk alienating the child and losing contact if they criticise the other parent and adopt an over-rigid insistence on their rights.

Mr Justice Wall admitted that dealing with contact disputes in England and Wales had "serious faults". It was stressful for parents and children, expensive, slow and adversarial. It tended to entrench parental attitudes rather than encourage change, and was ill-adapted to dealing with the dilemmas involved.

But parents had to take responsibility for their behaviour; blaming the system was no answer, said the judge, issuing a judgment to stop a father from having direct contact with his 12-year-old son.

The decision to make the judgment public follows a number of highly publicised demonstrations by fathers who claim they have been mistreated by the family courts.

Mr Justice Wall, whose promotion to the appeal court was announced this week, said the points in his judgment, which followed a hearing in private in the high court's family division, needed to be aired.

Mr W blames the courts for refusing to accept his view that his former wife had turned his son against him.

The judge said disputes between separated parents over contact with children were among the "most difficult and sensitive cases which judges and magistrates have to hear".

The proceedings aroused "profound emotions" and the children became the battleground on which parents fought the perceived wrongs each did to the other during their failed marriage. In this case, said the judge, the father had wrongly accused the mother of child abuse, perverting the course of justice, defamation, and perjury.

The child, identified as O, had told a social worker during the course of the court battles: "It is like a war. You know they are fighting, and they are fighting over me."

In a letter to another judge from his school, the boy was quoted as saying: "Dad says mum fills my head with rubbish, telling me all the wrong things. I feel I have a horrible life because of these two arguing. I just want them to be friends. I love them both."

The courts had found, said the judge, that stresses of divorce and the parents' "acrimonious behaviour" were intolerable for the boy.

Mr Justice Wall said: "The father asserts that this is a case in which the mother has deliberately alienated O from him. It is not.

"The principal reason that O is hostile to contact with his father is because of his father's behaviour, and not because his mother has influenced O against his father."

The courts recognised the importance of both parents and were not "anti-father and pro-mother", said the judge.

His ruling came after the father applied to withdraw his application for contact. This will mean he will have no face-to-face meetings with his son for the foreseeable future - but can write and send presents and cards on birthdays and at Easter and Christmas.

The judge said the father had vowed to join the "peaceful public protest as a rapidly increasing number of militant fathers have done and will continue to do in the future".

To view even more priceless comments on this article(because you folks are gonna scream when you read it)-


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